Thursday, March 7, 2019

audiobook thoughts: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The backstory: I bought this audiobook in 2014 when it was a Daily Deal, but like so many of the Daily Deals I buy, it never rose to the top of my audiobook TBR. On Litsy, CareBear hosted a low stakes read-a-long: read the book in February and discuss it at the end of the month. I'm so glad that I read this book but also that I had people to discuss it with because there is SO MUCH to discuss.

The basics: This novel is set in a country house West Hall, Vermont in 1908 and the present day. The town has had quite a few strange disappearances and deaths over the years. In 1908, Sarah Harrison Shea, who is struggling with the death of her daughter, Gertie, and writing in a diary. Her husband and doctor confuse her grief with psychosis. In present day, 19-year-old Ruthie and her little sister Fawn live in Sarah's house, and their mother is missing. When looking for clues, they find Sarah's diary.

My thoughts: If I'm being honest, if I knew I was reading a paranormal ghost story, I might not have picked it up. But I thought I was listening to mysterious historical fiction. And I was. While there are paranormal elements, it's a paranormal that feels very real and very grounded in emotion. McMahon builds the world and characters beautifully. I giddily described this novel to Mr. Nomadreader as "delightfully creepy," which is not a phrase I use often. But it is delightful and creepy. I love that McMahon made me understand the actions of her characters as normal and easy to relate to. Both timelines are compelling, and McMahon deftly discloses different things during each part that provide layers and context.

Audiobook thoughts: Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators, and she was excellent with this book. I did start this over about an hour in because I felt like I wasn't sure what was going on. I think that had more to do with my wandering mind than the novel, but there is a lot of world-building early on, and it's important to pay close attention to what is happening in the novel and what is happening in the passage's from Sarah's diary. Once I got into the book, however, I had no problems following the different elements.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 10 hours 45 minutes (336 pages)
Publication date: February 11, 2014
Source: personal copy

Want to read for yourself? Buy The Winter People from Amazon (it's only $2.99 on Kindle today!)

Challenges: Around the Year in 52 Books (dual timeline), Litsy A to Z, Pop Sugar (ghost story)

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